Cara J. Yerman ’12, M.S., CF-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist for The Shafer Center for Early Intervention, sat down with GFS for a Q&A.
How did you find an Independent Senior Project (ISP) when you were a senior?
I found out about my ISP through my ISP advisor, Crystal Lee ’96. I knew I wanted to work with kids, but had no idea in what capacity. Crystal introduced me to fellow alumna, Helen Zinreich Shafer ’93. Helen founded The Shafer Center (TSC), a private and non-public school for children with autism and other developmental delays that utilizes an evidenced based approach to treatment that puts children on the path to realizing their fullest potential. I was hesitant to try something new but Crystal gave me the push I needed to step outside of my comfort zone.
When did you know that this was the professional field that you wanted to pursue?
I knew that speech-language pathology (SLP) was the professional career I wanted to pursue within my first two weeks at TSC. The first SLP session that I observed was conducted by my current supervisor and I knew from watching her instantly that I wanted to be a speech-language pathologist and that I wanted to work with kids with autism at TSC.
Did you work with TSC during college?
I didn’t work at TSC during college, but once I declared my major as Cognitive Science with a concentration in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Delaware I was able to do my 25 hours of clinical observation during my summer break from school.
How did GFS prepare you for your professional life?
GFS made me an extremely driven person. I learned very quickly that I had to advocate for myself and strive to be the best student that I could be if I wanted to get into graduate school to become an SLP. I also became organized very quickly at GFS in order to successfully complete my academics. This is a skill that strongly supports me in my field, especially when it comes to each of my kids and their behavior, sensory, academic, and communication needs.
What advice would you share with seniors for their ISP experiences?
The best advice I can give for seniors for their ISP experiences is to be open-minded! Don’t be afraid to step out of the box—if I hadn’t in 2012, I wouldn’t have found my true passion. Be ready to take chances, because you never know where it can lead you. Always have a pen and paper ready to go, and ask as many questions as you can.